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April 6, 2015

Belfast shipyard expansion would create jobs

File photo / Billy Black
File photo / Billy Black
Front Street Shipyard's waterfront has deep water access and considerable dockage, allowing superyachts up to 200 feet to visit and stay in the mid-coast region.
File Photo / Billy Black

Front Street Shipyard's waterfront property

A. Building 5: 5 stories tall, 22,000 square feet, large enough for repair and refitting boats of up to 120 feet long.

B. Building 6 (not yet built): 5 stories tall, 22,000 square feet, large enough for boats of up to 150 feet long.

C. Buildings 2, 3, 4: Building 4 is the only building preserved from the former Stinson site. It's used for working on smaller boats. Connected buildings provide work areas for metal fabrication, pipefitting, welding and woodworking.

D. Building 1: 15,600 square feet. Storage and painting of boats, but also facilities for boaters who are renting space in the marina and includes a laundry room, showers and a lounge with free wi-fi.

E. Marina: 46 slips with 400 feet of transient dockage.

Front Street Shipyard is teaming up with the city of Belfast to apply for a Community Development Block Grant that would help the shipyard expand and hire more workers.

If awarded, the grant would help Front Street Shipyard purchase utility vehicles and equipment for the shipyard's soon-to-be-constructed Building 6, according to a joint announcement between the shipyard and the city of Belfast. The 22,000-square-foot, five-story building would expand the shipyard's capacity for large vessels — allowing for vessels up to 150 feet long — and would support 10 new full-time positions.

"With additional shop space and new additions to our staff, we'll be able to attract more recreational yachts to the mid-coast Maine area, which we see as a benefit to our neighboring businesses as well as our own," Front Street Shipyard President JB Turner said in a prepared statement.

The grant would cover half of the $532,660 in estimated total project costs, according to the city of Belfast. The other half would be covered by Front Street Shipyard's cash flows and lines of credit. As part of the grant application, the shipyard is committing itself to create those 10 new positions, at least six of which would employ individuals from low-income households.

As previously reported by Mainebiz, Front Street Shipyard was launched in 2011 and has been credited with transforming what was once a derelict area on Belfast's waterfront into what is now being called a "hidden gem for boaters" and an economic driver for the area.

"The City of Belfast is excited to continue our effective partnership with Front Street Shipyard, by assisting them in securing this funding that is necessary for the next phase of their expansion," Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge said in a prepared statement. "We have been so pleased to have had Front Street Shipyard here in Belfast for the last four years, providing quality jobs to our community, as well as investing in and revitalizing our waterfront, and we are looking forward to the next stage of their growth."

The Belfast City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The city is expected to receive a decision on the grant in late June.

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